Audi’s stunning new feature
THE styling is handsomely understated, the engine is effortless and the comfort is outstanding. The new Audi A6 follows a proven recipe for luxury sedans.
Yet it's tempting to dismiss it as more of the same, particularly when four-door luxury machines are increasingly less relevant as buyers turn to high-riding alternatives.
Audi's latest effort is worth a closer look. The A6 arrives as the gleaming, grille-emblazoned face of Audi Connect Plus, a tech suite that might be the most advanced on the road.
It can tell you the price of petrol, find a vacant parking space, send a digital smartphone "key" allowing people to borrow the car, provide restaurant reviews when you're peckish and warn you to find cover if hailstones are on the way.
Other vehicles will call emergency services following an accident - Audi moves the game on by telling first responders what colour car the car is, how many people were on board and whether airbags deployed.
High-res satellite photography features in best-in-class maps on its 12.8-inch digital dash. Its 10.1-inch central touchscreen answers the 8.6-inch display that is below it and pulses with haptic feedback as a keyboard for data input.
Fitting for a $100,000-plus vehicle, it's a beautifully rendered space with comfortable chairs, soft-touch leather, well-damped controls and soft mood lighting.
The mid-range A6 55 TFSI Quattro tested here costs $116,000 plus on-road costs and has options such as metallic paint ($2200) and air suspension ($2000), or about $18,000 less than the more dramatic-looking A7 Sportback.
Wagon fans can expect to pay a few thousand dollars more for the high-riding A6 Allroad in 2020. The range-topping V8-powered RS6 Avant will add at least another $100,000.
Our test car built on expansive rear-seat room with optional four-zone climate control and heated rear seats. The $9800 premium plus package added 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio, matrix LED headlights, glass sunroof, mood lighting and more.
The A6 engine options for now are a four-cylinder (180kW) and a V6 (250kW). The 55 TFSI uses the same 3.0-litre six as the S4 sports sedan, packing 500Nm of torque capable of propelling the car from rest to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds.
It feels brisk and effortless on the road, moving along smoothly with the help of the eight-speed automatic. All-wheel drive, standard in Australia, gets power to the ground without fuss, finding traction even in icy conditions during a winter cold snap.
Dry roads invite you to push a little harder, finding light and accurate steering, powerful brakes and impressive composure to lift the A6 above similarly priced SUVs.
Planted and capable, the A6 engages drivers on winding back roads while isolating passengers on bumpy urban routes.
Air suspension, a $2000 option, impressed on a 500km test - we have yet to drive a car with the standard variable suspension set-up to see whether it is worth the outlay.
Similarly, optional four-wheel steering promises to make the car more manoeuverable around town but that's also a drive for another day.
We can say that Audi's driver assistance technology is among the best, featuring a piloted driving mode capable of handling steering, stopping and braking duties in traffic jams. It takes the sting out of peak-hour commutes and promises mild autonomous driving when legislation permits.
The A6 also impresses with excellent noise suppression at highway speed.
Audi's A6 delivers classic luxury car refinement. As smart as it looks, the sedan is packed with technology but could use a little more charm.
Audi A6 55 TFSI vitals
Price: $116,000 plus on-roads
Warranty/servicing: 3 years/unlimited km, $1700 for 3 years
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo, 250kW/500Nm
Safety: 5 stars, 8 airbags, AEB, active cruise, pedestrian detection, traffic jam assist
Spare: None; inflation kit